Tourism in Vietnam can achieve more

March 22, 2023 | 15:54
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At the roundtable discussing how to boost tourism hosted by VIR today, experts agreed that Vietnam has yet to unlock its full potential as they shared various suggestions to remove the bottlenecks in the country's inbound tourism sector.
Tourism in Vietnam can achieve more

Speaking at the roundtable, Nguyen Thi Le Huong, deputy general director of Vietravel cum director of Vietravel Hanoi said, "With a coastline of 3,000km, Vietnam has the potential to become a resort destination. Vietnam is attracting tourists from India, Korea, and Mongolia to discover its beautiful beaches, but it is important that the government and the business community take a comprehensive approach to dealing with problems."

"In Thailand, tourism has reached every corner of the family. Thailand launched the ABC strategy four years ago to revive tourism by combining familiar tourist attractions to create new points on the travel itinerary. Vietnam is certainly not at a competitive advantage to other regional peers with its magnificent landscape, long coastline, and world-heritage sites," Huong added. "It is vital we reposition our brands and products and the government should issue policies that promote new destinations to meet the changing demands of travellers," she said. "In particular, tourism should be developed alongside entertainment. Therefore, more attention should be paid to developing the night economy and discovering new sources of customers, like India."

In the same vein, Hoang Nhan Chinh of the Tourism Advisory Board noted, "The rate of international tourists that arrived in the first three months of the year means we can be confident of Vietnam reaching its target of 10–12 million international tourists for 2023. Meanwhile, Thailand is currently on its way to achieving its goal of welcoming 30 million visitors in 2023."

"I believe that Vietnam should have loftier ambitions for the tourism industry so that the country can mobilise its resources to achieve the target. This is an opportunity for Vietnam to restructure the tourism industry, thereby contributing to a higher GDP for the country," Chinh added.

In 2019, tourism in Vietnam accounted for 9.2 per cent of GDP growth. Chinh firmly believes that the tourism sector will rebound and achieve higher levels next year by attracting high-paying visitors. "Relevant stakeholders should study customer demand and market changes so that they can build the right product and implement an efficient marketing plan," he said.

Indeed, there are many benefits to promoting tourism overseas, as it will bring foreign currency to Vietnam, contribute to exports, and increase the central bank's foreign exchange reserves. International tourists also have great purchasing power.

Martin Koerner, head of the Vietnam Business Forum's (VBF)Tourism Working Group, and chairman of the Tourism and Hospitality Sector Committee at the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham), said, "EuroCham has proposed the prime minister extend the use of e-visas to more countries. Another solution is to extend the stay of visa holders in Vietnam. However, we have seen slow progress in achieving this. The country needs to implement a tourism development strategy quickly to compete with its regional peers."

"Compare the experience of immigration between Thailand and Vietnam, the very first experience for travellers of a new country. Many tourists feel that they are instantly welcome in Thailand. However, they have to wait in long queues to enter Vietnam, and the customs officers are often not so friendly. At the point of entry and exit, if tourists do not feel welcome, they will find some other destination," Koerner noted.

From the policymaker's perspective, Phan Duc Hieu, permanent member of the National Assembly Economic Committee, said, "Tourism and agriculture are predicted to be important contributors to economic growth this year. We should think broadly in terms of convenience and human movement. Vietnam needs proper policy and related infrastructure to attract international tourists and encourage them to stay longer."

Hieu went on to say, "It doesn't make sense that we try to learn from the experiences of other countries and then set goals lower than theirs. We should change our perspective and take steps towards administrative and legal reform. Meanwhile, the application process for e-visas is still overly bureaucratic, with many steps to take and agencies involved."

"Thailand has taken bold steps to reopen its tourism market and I believe that if we can have the right mindset and act accordingly, we can make significant improvement to our inbound tourism figures," he added.

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By Thanh Van

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